From The Freelance Trenches
How I Got Booked On a Radio Talk Show
Many years ago (as in decades) I was promoting my newest self-published book. A big part of my promotion strategy was media appearances – magazines, television appearances and radio talk show interviews. Just prior to receiving a garage full of books, I sent out notifications (mail and faxes) to pretty well all the major radio stations across Canada. My pitches were geared to the “type” of program For example, morning wake-up shows are vastly different from afternoon drive home shows.
One day I got a call from one of Canada’s largest drive home talk shows. The radio station was located in Toronto Canada where people actually spent up to an hour and a half commuting EACH way. The listening audience was massive.
Perspective. This was when cell phones did NOT exist.
The caller introduced himself and asked if I could be available for 30 minutes or so as an “emergency fill-in” guest. He had my fax information available (including a list of questions) and figured we could wing it.
Of course, I said YES. So he set up the time, told me they would call me and gave me an emergency backup number. He also asked if I had any experience with a “call-in audience.” My answer was YES Then he asked if I could “cope” with no call-ins. Again I answered YES.
At the time stated, I got a call from the program’s HOST and we chatted for five minutes. He went through a bit of the process involved in taking calls and asked for some information on where my book was available and if the station could give out my phone number. (duh YES).
Then he put me on “pause” and I listened to his introduction and to the line up of guests. I was the first in line … then my heart took a complete nose dive.
Next up was CANADA’S SEX GODDESS.
Sheesh I thought, I am doomed. Who will listen to me or call in when all they want to do is listen to Canada’s Sex Goddess. I practically died on the spot. But obviously I was on the line and committed.
Brian, the host introduced me and then asked his first few questions. He announced a commercial and said they would be taking calls as soon as they returned. Then he spoke to me and told me the switch board (25 incoming line) was totally lit up.
Half an hour later, back to a commercial and he asked if I could please keep on going.
About an hour in … my phone line went dead. So I called the emergency number and they hooked me up again. Brian was a bit of a scamp and his first question back on air was “what do you think about what the last caller said?” Crikey, how should I know! Somehow I bullshitted my way through. Next commercial, Brian laughed like a hyena and told me I got a gold star for prevarication (I had to look that one up).
Two and a half hours later I was still on, but when he asked if I could keep on going I told him my voice was about to go AWOL. So he told his audience my book buying details and said I would definitely be back again.
Back on private Brian said … “You are now famous for bumping Canada’s Sex Goddess. Good work. Gotta go … but my assistant will get back with you later this week for another booking.”
Over the next year I was invited back three times for that book and two times for another book. None of them lasted nearly as long but all the calls were all massively successful.
The book sold steadily for over twenty years and is now out of print. The book was named How To Make Outrageously Great Tips: A no-nonsense guide for waiters and waitresses — Written by: Your ultimate boss … a customer. The topic of the talk shows was about service — good and bad. Turned out people had BIG opinions about service.
RADIO TALK SHOW BOOKING TIP: One of the tricks of great talk show interviews is some level of controversy. The host(s) want lots of back and forth interaction. They want emotional responses.
Every time I think about my radio interview experiences (hundreds) I remember hanging up the phone almost three hours later, giving a sigh of relief, and having a BIG giggle over having Bumped Canada’s Sex Goddess.
Here’s a fabulous list of North American Radio Stations